Monday, November 25, 2013

Reading with a Pencil - Even Mark Twain Did It!

Mark Twain the author of such literary greats as Puddn'head Wilson and Huckleberry Finn was also a humorist and essayist.  His avid reading took him across disciplines as was common in 19th century America and some of his annotations have been featured in an article on "Twain's Viciously Funny Marginalia".

Heaven help John Dryden, the translator of Plutarch's Lives, which, is "Translated from the Greek" into, as Twain annotates, "rotten English . . . the whole carefully revised and corrected by an ass."  As you can see, Twain had some strong feelings about the English language and did not hesitate to talk back to his texts.

On the title page of Saratoga in 1901, Twain renames the volume Saratoga in 1891, or The Droolings of an Idiot.

What do you look for when annotating a text?  Are you summarizing paragraphs in the margin? Are you talking back to the text the way Twain does?

When you talk back to a text you are engaging in critical thinking, probably the most important skill you should take away from college.  In addition to writing memory prompt marginalia, what kind of annotations do you use that engages you with a text?  In other words, what kind of critical thinking do you employ when reading with a pencil? 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let's Change the Anatomy of the World's Top CEOs

According to the graphic "Anatomy of the World's Top-Performing CEOs" created by Domo the average CEO is a married guy with a receding hairline who has 3.1 children (I feel sorry for that .1 child).

Furthermore he went to some fancy college.  On the other hand, only 29 percent hold an MBA and 61 percent were educated outside of the United States.

Here's a stat that should make you smile, 79 percent were promoted from within; meaning hang in there and you can make your way up the corporate ladder.

Here's another plus.  Many of the top companies are in California.

What's missing?

How old are these guys?  Receding hairlines and 3.1 children implies middle age.  It seems that experience (not just education) has a lot to do with a CEOs capabilities.

What else is missing?

Women.  Only two of the top 100 CEOs are women!

Why in the 21st century do you think there are so few top women CEOs?  Do women dislike being CEOs?  Are women not cut out to be CEOs?  You can't just say it's because there are so many great foreign companies--34 percent of the Top 100 companies are in the U.S.  How does gender contribute to this lopsided statistic?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

That is the question.  Well, apparently not for one high school senior attending an informational seminar for Bowdoin College, the school to which she had applied.

"Throughout the presentation, she apparently posted disparaging comments on Twitter about her fellow attendees, repeatedly using a common expletive.

"Perhaps she hadn’t realized that colleges keep track of their social media mentions," reported Dean Meikeljohn in "They Loved Your GPA Then They Saw Your Tweets."

And you thought only employers would track such things?

Think about it, if you owned a company or were the Dean of a college wouldn't you want to know what people are saying about your product, company, or college?  Of course, you would.  Would-be employers or colleges don't just Google perspective employees or students, they keep track of their web reputation as well. 

"'We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,' Mr. Meiklejohn, the dean Bowdoin said.

"As certain high school seniors work meticulously this month to finish their early applications to colleges, some may not realize that comments they casually make online could negatively affect their prospects. In fact, new research from Kaplan Test Prep, the service owned by the Washington Post Company, suggests that online scrutiny of college hopefuls is growing.

"Of 381 college admissions officers who answered a Kaplan telephone questionnaire this year, 31 percent said they had visited an applicant’s Facebook or other personal social media page to learn more about them — a five-percentage-point increase from last year. More crucially for those trying to get into college, 30 percent of the admissions officers said they had discovered information online that had negatively affected an applicant’s prospects."

30 percent didn't make it to the school of their choice because of some DUMB comment, picture, tweet, or tag that they had posted online.

"Gary L. Ross, Colgate’s a dean of admission at Colgate once called a student, to whom the college had already offered acceptance, to check whether an alcohol-related incident that was reported online was indeed true. (It was, and Colgate rescinded the offer of admission.)"

Really?  Does someone really have to tell you not to post that picture of you chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels online? It has become so bad that high schools are now giving high school students tutoring on how to spiff up their internet presence.

"Guidance counselors are tutoring students in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses. One junior’s original email address was “bleedingjesus,” said Lenny Libenzon, the school’s guidance department chairman. That changed.

"'They imagine admissions officers are old professors,' he said. 'But we tell them a lot of admissions officers are very young and technology-savvy.'"  It's not just a bunch of old guys with elbow patches on their jacket smoking a pipe and reading hand written personal essays.  Professors deal with technology every day.

I once had a student whose email address was "yourfacebites".  It was really annoying to keep getting emails directed at my face, in fact, so annoying I sent an email to the student saying I'm not answering your queries  unless you change your address.

How about you, do you think you need to scrub your internet identity before applying to the University of California, Berkeley or that prospective company where you are just dying to work?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

MLA Citations

When you reach college you will be writing a variety of research papers and by the time you reach second year English, your instructors expect that you know how to paraphrase, quote, use in-text citations, and create a works cited page entry in your sleep.

Why is citation important? Plagiarism is one thing that can get your kicked out of college. Your ideas and your writing belong to you. Just like my thoughts and my writings belong to me and Shakespeare's thoughts and writings belong to him. So give credit where credit is due.

Here are a couple of quizzes to test your knowledge:

Click on the link for an In-Text Citation Quiz offered by McGraw-Hill

Click on the next link for a Works Cited Quiz created by McGraw-Hill.

So how did you do? Were you surprised by how much you knew about in-text citations and works cited entries? Or how much you need to learn? Don't worry it's not too late there are all kinds of online resources for avoiding plagiarism. I would also recommend that you get a good used Writer's Handbook and keep it on your desk.

Remember, it is not enough to just drop an entry on the Works Cited page, you must include in-text citations following everything in your papers that is not your idea.